• Amy Nguyen

The Dangers of Acrylic Fabric

When shopping for warm sweaters for the Fall and Winter, do you take the type of material into consideration? Cotton, polyester, cashmere, wool, viscose, and acrylic are all common materials for warm winter goods. But did you know some materials could be more harmful than others?

Many of today's fast fashion garments are woven from acrylic fibers. Acrylic is a synthetic man-made material that was originally developed to be a cheaper alternative to wool. While Acrylic is known to be durable and easy to care for, the material is actually known to cause cancer.

The key ingredient of acrylic fiber is acrylonitrile, (also called vinyl cyanide). Acrylonitrile is a carcinogen and a mutagen, known to target the central nervous system.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when wearing acrylic fabric, the body releases heat which can heat up acrylonitrile, which in turn released toxic chemicals that absorbed by our skin.

In 2010, a Canadian study found that women who work with some common synthetic materials could increase their risk of developing breast cancer after menopause.  The data included  women working in textile factories which produce acrylic fabrics   –  those women have seven times the risk of developing breast cancer than the normal population, while those working with nylon fibers had double the risk.

If working with these materials increased the chances of developing breast cancer – imagine what these materials can do on your body!

In addition to health concerns, acrylic fibers are also not easily recycled nor is it readily biodegradable. Acrylic materials are also highly flammable.

Acrylic manufacturing is not the most environmentally friendly, it involves highly toxic substances which require careful storage, handling, and disposal.

So what do I recommend doing?

1) Save up and invest in high quality pieces that will not only last, but will be better for your health! Avoid acrylics and other plastic-based materials.

I know it's tempting to buy that super cute sweater that's only $39 acrylic sweater, and it's hard to justify spending $150 on the something similar, but think of the risk and costs of future health issues!

2) Check clothing labels before you buy.

Check clothing labels before buying whether its online or IRL! As a consumer it's important to know what you're wearing, where it came from, and how it can affect your body.


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